When it comes to the Vikings passing game in 2013, there are a lot of players who have positive buzz surrounding them. Greg Jennings is a touted veteran with a strong history of making plays. Cordarrelle Patterson is an explosive talent. Kyle Rudolph is emerging as an elite tight end. Considering that the Vikings were being viewed as being on life support at the wide receiver position following the trade of Percy Harvin, things have taken a shockingly positive turn.
However, a guy who has largely flown under the radar but could have a big impact is the player who is technically replacing Harvin – second-year wide receiver Jarius Wright.
Wright's rookie season appeared to have "bust" written all over it. After suffering an ankle injury in the final preseason game, Wright was inactive on game days for half the season and didn't see the light of day on Sundays until after Harvin was injured against Seattle last season. To be part of opening day on the field and in the lineup is a 180-degree turn for Wright, who is looking forward to taking part in the festivities of a season-opening game – and making an impact on the scoreboard.
"It's very exciting for me," Wright said. "I didn't get a chance to be a part of opening day last year. This year, I'm looking to just go out there and make a difference. Hopefully, I can catch a couple passes and maybe get in the end zone a couple of times."
A year ago at this time, it was a vastly different story. Wright was an afterthought for much of the season. Once his ankle healed up, the biggest impression he was making was on the coaching staff as a deep part of the wide receiver rotation. He felt the sting of not being able to show what he was capable of doing and being inactive for the first nine games of the season was a nagging source of frustration.
"As a player, if you want to play this game, not being able to contribute as you think you can, it definitely put me down a little bit," Wright said. "But I stayed ready to go. When I got my chance I tried to make the most of it."
With the addition of Jennings and Patterson and the return of a healthy Wright and Jerome Simpson, the Vikings have a lot more confidence in their passing game heading into the 2013 season and Wright believes the offense will be more than simply handing the ball to Adrian Peterson and hoping for the best.
"I definitely see a more explosive passing attack," Wright said. "We could have done a little bit better, but in the OTAs and minicamps and things over the summer, we've definitely worked on getting better at that aspect."
While most of the 2013 season will be a gauntlet of challenges for the Vikings, Wright likes where the team is at. They put together a month of playoff style "win or go home" football in December and it set the foundation for what Wright is convinced will be the next level for the Vikings – not only making the playoffs, but making a deep January run toward New Jersey and Super XLVIII.
"I like where this team is at and where we're heading," Wright said. "We're a great team and we're steadily getting closer and closer and growing as a team each and every day. As the season goes on, I think we'll do better and better each week."
While the Vikings aren't being predicted to make the postseason this year, Wright is looking forward to doing his part to prove those predictions wrong and the Vikings have taken on a "Playoffs or Bust" mentality heading into the season.
"I think that's kind of the way it is in this locker room," Wright said. "That's the way the players feel about. We think we definitely have the team to make it and we can really do great things this year."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Wright finds renewed confidence in himself
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